One of India’s finest left-arm spinners, Rajinder Goel died aged 77 on Sunday after battling long-term illness. Goel passed away at his residence in Kolkata.
Rajinder Goel never played for India but was regarded as a fine left-arm spinner who played during the era of Bishan Singh Bedi. Goel played 157 first-class matches, most of them for Haryana, and finished with 750 wickets.
Rajinder Goel holds the record for most wickets taken in Ranji Trophy as he scalped 637, 107 more than S Venkataraghavan who is second on the list. Goel made his debut in the 1957-58 season and went on to play domestic cricket until the age of 44.
In 2017, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) honoured Rajinder Goel with the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award.
I feel blessed to have received his love and guidance over the years. He will be deeply missed. My condolences to Sh. Nitin Goel and the family and friends of Goel sir. (3/3)
— Anirudh Chaudhry (@AnirudhChaudhry)
“It is a huge loss for the game of cricket and personally for me. He was one of the best, if not the best left-arm spinner that this country has ever seen. His contribution to the game post-retirement was massive,” former BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra said, as quoted by the PTI.
Goel was born on September 20, 1942, to an assistant station master in Haryana. At 16, he was regarded as the best bowler of the All India Schools tournament after he helped North Zone clinch the title.
Goel’s came closest to playing for India came when West Indies, under Clive Lloyd toured India in 1974-75. Bishan Singh Bedi was dropped before the first Test in Bengaluru and Goel was included in the Indian squad.
However, the trio of Erapalli Prasanna, S Venkatraghavan and Chandrasekhar played for India ahead of Goel, writes Anindya Dutta in his book ‘Wizards – The Story of Indian Spin Bowling’.
Rajinder Goel went on to serve as the chairman of BCCI’s national junior selection committee and the chairman of the Haryana selection committee.